Charles Stanley - Holding Too Tightly
God is the source of every good thing that comes our way. Now, some people know how to handle those blessings and they take good advantage of them and invest their life wisely. Some other people seemingly can't handle it. And what happens is they waste the blessings that God has given to them. Sometimes they hold on so tight that they lose it. Sometimes they just find themselves squandering the very good things that God has sent their way. And oftentimes, it happens to people who never intended for it to happen. They thought they knew how to handle the good things of God, but somehow, they don't. And they lose them.
Now, there is a spiritual principle that says simply this, whatever we hold onto too tightly we lose. And it's true in every aspect of life. And that's what I want to talk about in this message. And I want you to turn if you will to the twelfth chapter of Luke. And here is a parable that Jesus gave and here is a principle that every person should take advantage of. And remember carefully because it affects every single one of us. And it can affect you before you realize what's happening. And in your sincerest ideas about how to keep something in your life sometimes we can lose it.
So, beginning in this thirteenth verse of the twelfth chapter here's what the Scripture says, "Someone in the crowd said to Him," speaking of Jesus, "'Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.' But He said to him, 'Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?' Then He said to them, 'Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.'" And then He told them this parable, He said, "The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, 'This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry".' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?' So, is the man," or the woman, "who stores up treasure for himself," or herself, "and is not rich toward God".
This is a parable that God gave as a warning. And it's a good warning for all of us at this point in our life, the person who lives their life and ignores God in the process and lives their life only thinking of themselves and not anyone else and removing God out of the equation is a fool. Now, think about this, if you're one of those persons who's living your life without God and you're saying, You know, I don't need all of this and I can handle it. The Bible says you're a fool. And the other part of what's going to happen here is the person who lives that kind of life loses.
So, look to see for just a moment what this man says. How many times he says in these three verses "I" and "my"? Look at this, beginning in verse seventeen. So, he says, "'What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, 'This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grains and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry".'"
Now, there are two things this man forgot. And if you'll notice here it's very evident. One of them is he made this mistake, he never saw anybody beyond himself. It was all about what I have and me and what I'm going to do with what I have. First mistake, he never looked beyond himself. And secondly, and big mistake, he never looked beyond this life to the life to come. When a person lives that kind of life the Bible says they're a fool. They may do many good things.
And I want you to notice something in this passage, Jesus does not condemn this farmer. He doesn't say he was corrupt. He doesn't say he was immoral. He doesn't say this man was dishonest and unethical. He just says he gained more and more and more but he couldn't handle it. And what he began to do was this, he made a decision. When he had more than he could handle and had to tear down his old barns and build larger barns, so he could take the blessings of God that's when he should have made a decision. He made a decision but he made the wrong decision. And the wrong decision was this, he made a decision to keep it all for himself. He could have made the decision, my barns are full and they're running over. It's time for me to share with other people and begin to be a giver of the blessings of God. But he was centered on himself. It was all about him and not anything about God.
You see how much is enough anyway? The Romans, they had a proverb that said, money is like seawater, the more you drink, the thirstier you become. And how many people do you know? You know, well, I've got to have a little bit more. Well, this is where I am but if I just had a little bit more. And when you get a little bit more you've got to have a little bit more and more and more and more. And I've never heard anybody say, Well, I've accumulated and accumulated. I have enough now and stop right there. It's always a little bit more. Then they take risks to gain a little bit more. And if you'll notice and think about it, here's what happens, the more they have, the more their anxiety level rises. Because the more they have, the more they worry about how they're going to keep it. And they begin to be concerned about, how much more can I have? What am I going to do? You see, it's a trap.
So, I want us to think about this whole idea, this principle here, that's so clearly given here. Because this man made a terrible mistake. And his mistake was to grip upon with which he held the blessings of God; things that God had given him, more than he needed so he could have shared them with people who were in desperate need.
So, ask yourself this question, is there anything in your life that you have a dead grip on? Something that you absolutely are not going to let go? Something that you know you've worked hard for it, you've got it, it's yours? Or maybe it's something of some other nature, you've got it and you have a grip on it, and you're not going to let it go, and it's just something very, very important to you? So, I want us to think about some of those possibilities because you could say very easy, Well, I'm not a wealthy person. And so, because I'm not a wealthy person this doesn't apply to me.
Well, let's think about some other things that people grip. One of them is relationships. Now, if you want to destroy a good relationship here's how you do it, you just tighten your hold on that person. On their emotions, on what they do, how they do it, how they look, how they dress, what they do, what they would not do, and where they go or would not go. Because you see, if you begin to smother somebody in a relationship very soon thereafter they're going to begin to pull away. And usually if you have tightened your grip on that person they're not only just going to pull away, they're going to pull away totally. Because no one likes to forsake totally their freedom and be in anybody's grip.
So, that could be true in your life. If you want to destroy a relationship, you just grip it and hold on tightly. Then I think about also how people hold on to their goals. Instead of asking God, How do You want me to spend my life? These are the goals I believe You want me to have. And so, once they decide what their goals are in life not having asked God for about it, they just grip it. Here's what I'm going to do. Here's what I'm going to accomplish. Here's how I'm going after it. And they grip it and grip it and grip it, and it controls their life.
Remember this, this man's problem was his priorities. This man's problem was what dominated his thinking. What dominated his thinking was not the will of the Father. And it's there's a phrase in this verse I want you to notice here beginning in verse seventeen. Because Jesus had just started the parable and He said, "The land of the rich man was very productive". Watch this, this was one of his big mistakes. "He began reasoning to himself, saying 'What shall I do?'" And so, forth. Instead of reasoning with God, instead of trusting God, he began to reason with himself, here's what I'm going to do.
Sometimes a person will hold onto dreams that they have. Here's what I want in life. Here's what I'm hoping it's going to happen. Here's what I have as a dream. Instead of asking God, what do You have for my life? What dream is it that You want? What is it out there in my future that You have? And yet sometimes a person says, Here's what I want to do, here's how I'm going to do it. This is my dream. And then sometimes a person can hold onto their past. One of the most destructive things you can do is to grip a past, especially if in that past there is unforgiveness, there's bitterness, there's resentment. There are attitudes and feelings in your life in the past. Things that have happened to you. You still hold on. You just can't let it go. You live in the past; you're going to miss the future. You're going to miss God's best and you're going to spend your life taking out these bad feelings on other people who've probably moved on in life and they don't even know that you're feeling what you're feeling. But many people can't let go their grip.
And here's what I've noticed, over the years I've seen people who couldn't let go. Here's what happens, it shows eventually on their face. You begin to see it in their body, and before long it has taken its toll in their human body. You cannot violate the principles of God without consequence. And then sometimes, it's wrong ideas about things. And you know, well this is what I believe about it and that's it. And I think about people who have wrong theological beliefs. Well, this is what my father believed, this is what my mother believed, this is what I'm going to believe. I don't care what you say. This is it. They grip error. And not even realizing that they're living in error and gripping error because somebody else believed it. And somebody else held onto it.
What we should always be asking is, what does the Word of God say? There's not a single question that cannot be answered in the Word of God. Somebody says, Well, I know one. What is it? The Bible doesn't have an answer to this is, when is Jesus coming back? There is an answer. Jesus said, Only the Father knows. That's His answer. There is always an answer. The wrong ideas, wrong attitudes, wrong perceptions of situations. For example, let's say that you and your family have a little situation going on, and do you have a little argument among you. And somebody's whole perception is that they are being left out. Everybody's against me, and so, what happens? Then you just create problems.
And I want to say to you again and again, again, this whole perspective here is here's what happens whenever you leave God out. And you begin to reason only with yourself about any issue in your life and you leave Him out; it's going to cost you. Because old human nature thinks the worst oftentimes, takes the wrong attitude and makes wrong decisions. Sometimes one of those things we hold onto and probably all of us have been guilty of this is timing. Have you ever given God a time limit? Well, I've been praying about this thing for six weeks. God, if You don't answer this in six weeks it's all over. I'm going to do what I think I ought to do because I've given You long enough.
Now, let me ask you, don't you think it's foolish to tell the Originator of time what He must do and what He must not do according to your timing? Well, God is under no obligation whatsoever to meet my schedule. He's under obligation to meet His schedule. If I fit fine, if I don't fit then I suffer the consequence. Ask yourself the question, what are you holding onto? Sometimes it's something very valuable in your life. And when I say, for example, holding onto it I'm simply meaning this, it has your attention. And if I should ask you, what do you think about in any given day above everything else? Is it something that you own? Do you know what the most valuable, tangible thing in your life is? The Bible. This is it.
Now, watch this, what's in this book is the only thing you're going to take when you die. Jewels, money, houses, lands, crops, stock, barns, all of those things you're going to leave every bit of it with you. Have you ever been to a funeral and they open the casket and there is this gentleman or this woman and it's loaded with hundred dollar bills? Or it's got diamonds over here and stock certificates and deeds. Have you ever seen a casket like that? No. You know why? You're not going to take anything with you. The most valuable thing that you possess is the Word of God. Because not only do you possess it as a book but it's in your heart, in your life as a believer. You're a child of God.
Listen, your eternal salvation's wrapped up in what that book says. Your hope of eternal life, the blessings and the promises of God are all wrapped up in what is stated in the Word of God. It's the most valuable thing. Now, if this man if this farmer had reasoned with God he wouldn't have been building more barns. He'd had been giving it away. But the Bible says he reasoned with himself. And that's exactly what people do, Well, now here's what I think. And they'll make decisions based on human knowledge, human understanding, and based on the world's ways. And the world's way today is you better accumulate all you can because the economy we have, it's just a mess, it's getting worse all the time. You could end up on poverty row if you're not careful.
Well, without God a lot of things can happen. And the question is, where do I place Him in my life? In other words, what's the real source of liberty? The real source of freedom is not in a government. The real source of freedom is a relationship to Jesus Christ. And Paul was very strong about freedom and liberty; our liberty that comes in knowing Christ Jesus as our Savior. So, we can get ourselves all bent out of shape about gripping this and gripping that. So, what's the motivation? What makes a person want to hold on like that? Well, naturally, number one is the fear of loss.
Now, let me ask you this, if God gives you something can't God guard that for you? Can't He keep what He gives you? Fear of loss. This is what makes people smother the person they supposedly love. Now, think about this, if somebody says to you, I love you, I want you. I've got to have you. I don't want you looking at anybody else. In other words, you're it. Mmm-mmm-mmm on and on they go. That's not love. You know what that is? That's insecurity is what that is. That's jealousy. That is not love. But what's the motivation? Fear of loss. And sometimes when we don't handle that properly, we lose the very thing that we're afraid we're going to lose.
A second thing is a failure to trust God. Listen, if He gives you a little bit and you treat it properly and you trust Him, He can multiply that. Now, you may multiply it in your own strength and so-called wisdom, and after awhile, you lose it all. Listen, when you reason without God you're going to pay the consequence. How strongly could I say that? That is the principle of the Word of God and it is true. Now, watch this carefully, you may not lose what you accumulated but you will lose something more than likely far more precious. How many men have set out to become millionaires and they became millionaires. They lost their wife and their children rebelled. Ask that man with all of his millions, wouldn't you rather have that beautiful, lovely wife that you had and those precious children than your money? Yes.
So, be sure you understand you may not lose exactly what you spent your life accumulating or you may. But you will lose your joy, your peace, your contentment, your happiness. And you may lose the very things that you treasure the most in life or you thought you did. Fear of failure, fear of loss, of failing to trust God. And sometimes we're motivated by pride. And some people want to get rich because they just want to be known as a wealthy person. Here comes so and so.
And you know what? Sometimes that happens in churches, that people who are the most wealthy, we always try to look at them a little differently. I'm going to tell you something, I have never done that. Maybe one of the reasons I treat everybody the same is because I've been poor enough long enough to know how that feels. Maybe that's what it is. But the truth is, we treat everybody alike. You treat everybody alike because, listen, there may be some people who are far more godly than others. Some people who are richer or poorer than others. But that's not the criteria. The criteria is, a person is a gift of God. And every single one of us is equally as important in the eyes of God. So, we're to treat people that way. And pride, listen, pride's always going to bring you down.
So, ask yourself the question, what is it that you have a hold on that demands most of your thinking? Thing that you're most concerned about. You want to protect it all costs. It's in fact it just demands so much of your thought. You can be at work and you're thinking about it. It's just become an idol in a person's life. Okay, say alright I've identified that. How do I deal with it? How do you release your grip? Remember this, oftentimes God has a handful of blessing. And the reason you can't have it is because you've got your hand so full of other things other than what God wants, there's no room for God's blessing in your life. How does a believer live? Just like that. Lord whatever I have You want. And Lord, watch this, whatever You want to give me. It's what's important in our life.
So, first of all, we have to recognize something other than God is first in our life. That's the first step toward getting release. Secondly, I need to ask God, "Lord, how much of my time and my thought and my energy do I give to this thing or this position or to this person or this thing I have of value"? Thirdly, acknowledge. That is, be honest with yourself and acknowledge, Well, Lord that thing's like an idol in my life. God, I think more about that than I do the Lord. I think more about him or about her than I or about my children than I do Jesus. In other words, He's way down the line from the things that I think about. And then decide in your life, I'm going to put everything in its proper place. And what is that? Jesus first. And then Lord I know that if He's first, You're going to help me put other things in their proper place. But Jesus first above everything else.
Think about the things that you hold dear. How much time do you spend thinking about the Lord? Now, watch this, and His will, His purpose, His plan for your life? How much time in prayer? How much time do you give reading the Word of God? You say, Well, I can't just read the Word of God all the time. Now, watch this, not talking about reading the Word of God all the time. I'm talking about this, how much time do you give in thinking about Him?
In other words, when you're making decisions, Lord what would You have me to do? What would You have me to say at this point? In other words, your life is wrapped up in talking to Him and seeking His guidance and His direction. He's number one in your life. You're going to run everything by Him. And once you choose to do that, Lord this is my decision. Everything else in my life is second to Your will, to Your purpose and to Your plan. What you've done is this, you have flung open your hands, let God take what He wants to take.
Now, watch this carefully, He may not even take it out of your hand but He may replace its position in your life because now He's number one. That parable is real simple and here's what it is, when you reason with yourself and you leave God out of your life and He's not number one and other things crowd into your life and they become the thing that you think about the most, worry about the most, most anxious about, spend the most time accumulating and working at it and whatever. It becomes an idol and you're going to lose it.
You say, Oh, well, now that may happen to some people. Listen, the laws of God know no exceptions. The principles of God do not have any prejudice toward this or that or him or her. They're just truth, absolute truth. The most valuable thing in your life is your precious relationship to Jesus Christ. Nothing can match that. Are you willing to open your hands? With him, with her, with that, with this, with this timing, that timing. Are you willing to say to Him, Lord, I've held on so long and I've tried to have my way and it looks like I'm going to lose it all. Well, eventually you will. It's just the principle. Listen, and it's a principle that's good for us. It's good for us. Why? Because God wants to bless us. So, anything that comes between us and Him is competition. And because He loves us He wants to be number one.
Father how grateful we are that You love us that much. That You love us enough that You want to be number one. Because that's where the blessings flow in such a way that we cannot even explain why we are so blessed. I pray for somebody whose life is all caught up in the things of this world and they've left you out. To remind them the laws of God are eternal, they're personal, they know no exception, and they will operate. And we ask it in Jesus' name, amen.
Well, the first decision you have to make if you're not a Christian is to ask the Lord Jesus to forgive you of your sins. Because you see, those things have become first. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins, surrender your life to Him. Then all these things that you're gripping, He will show you one by one what's in your life that ought not to be. Trust Him as your Savior. That's the beginning step. And that's my prayer for you.